The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

02 July 2011

The Essential Phone Interview Handbook - A Review

Paul Bailo's new book, The Essential Phone Interview Handbook, promises its readers, right on its cover, to "Master the faceless interview," to "Be prepared no matter when they call," and to "Protect your professional presence." In the end, the book is an easy read with good tips strewn throughout the book.

One negative for this book is that the author neither chooses nor targets his primary audience. This seeming lack of target audience might be Mr. Bailo's objective, to reach a broader pool of job-seekers, but in the attempt to say everything to everyone, the book loses its message by being too remedial/rudimentary for those who have held professional positions and/or those who are comfortable and carry professional confidence and demeanor.

A second though less grievous negative is too much repetition in the stories - from personal stories to "Story with a Moral" to "Something to think about" sections throughout the book. The stories are too similar to draw different lessons or meanings.

The author laid out the book well, from preparation before the interview, to during the interview, to following the interview. He offers several valuable tips:

* Record your voice (page 23). Great concept - understand what you like, how you sound, what fillers you may unconsciously project (um, ahh, you know - page 81), tone, and confidence.
* Ensure you use a land-line (page 39)
* Remove or deal with distractions and background noise (pages 30+).
* Confirm your appointment the day before your scheduled interview (page 61).
* Take notes during the call (page 118)
* After the call, reflect upon and analyze the call (page 171). What did you do correct? What can you improve?

Unfortunately, the author includes a few miscues. The example of how to deal with the distraction of a dog barking (pages 35-36) is one. His suggested response: "I'm sorry. I thought I had planned for everything - researching, practicing, and studying. One thing I didn't plan on was my neighbor's dog. Lucky for me, I'm very flexible, and I can easily manage the unexpected. Let's continue with our phone interview."

Huh? "Lucky for [you]"...? Perhaps not so lucky for the interviewer. Does this sound like a comfortable and confident person, whose talent precedes such a distraction? Would it not be better to say, "Excuse me, that is my neighbor's dog. If his barking distracts you, I can quickly move to another telephone to continue our important call." This reply could show that you also care that the barking might affect or distract the interviewer.

The author suggests you research for three days prior to your phone interview -- and lays out suggestions for each day. (p 49) He begins with, "Go to the library." Really? The most recent and valuable information on most firms is not necessarily located in a library, nor is it the most up-to-date. The author then ends with a note that just by going to Google for a search of the company does not reach the required depth of research. But at no time does the author suggest going to the firm's web site, or Hoovers, or other online resources, to research the company's mission, values, history, and culture.

Page 57 leads in with a tip to read about the national and international news the morning of the call. This would ensure that an interviewee does not fall into the same situation the author fell into where the caller described a speech in Europe (page 58) that he was unaware of and made him uncomfortable and embarrassed the rest of the call.

Hmm. Is the organization located in Europe or does it have business that would be affected by events there? Did this European president's speech notify the world that a new war was initiated, or a disaster struck that affects a large region? If not, why would this be relevant? Why would, "I have not yet read about the speech" make you fail the phone interview? Be realistic. Certainly consider news in the area of the caller, news that may affect the company, but you could not memorize the entire world's news to respond effectively to his scenario, unless you are already interested and regularly read this news.

Despite my quibbles, The Essential Phone Interview Handbook offers fine pointers for those job applicants who have yet to field a telephone interview.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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